Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tuesday, June 9 ... Summer!

I'm busy reading those recommended summer reads mentioned in my May 31 column, and many more books - latest reads are:
- Two for fun by Elin Hilderbrand of Nantucket: "The Matchmaker" and "Summerland." Nice for a breath of sea air on the page, and both contain characters that are rich.
- Kent Haruf's first novel, "The Tie That Binds," which established the late author as a fine writer of midwestern plains life, with beautifully drawn characters. His "Plainsong" and "Eventide" became Hallmark films back when Hallmark meant something more than love stories. His posthumous release, "Our Souls at Night," is on my "must-read" list.
- Jennifer McMahon's "The Winter People" is a slow building, increasingly scary summer read. Brrr....
- Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See," joins my long list of War War II-era reads with a profoundly touching story about the intersecting lives of a German soldier and a blind French girl allied with the Resistance. In the end, we are all victims.
- Right now, I'm alternating between Colum McCann's "Let the Great World Spin," a somewhat ponderous, thoughtfully told story of several New Yorkers whose lives turn on a single observation - that of a man walking a high wire between two towers - and Kathleen Norris's "Dakota," a reflection on life in the Dakotas, mostly plains and Black Hills. I lived there for 17 years after marriage, and her writing is a beautiful call to home.

I reread one of my all-time favorites, "To Kill a Mockingbird" perioically, and want to alert readers to an interesting event coming up June 18 at the Worcester location (Lincoln Plaza) and also Burlington, Nashua,  Millbury and Framingham in this region. Those stores and others will hold a discussion of the book and the movie version (referred to by one store as "scream adaptation" in advance of the July release of Lee's final work, "Go Set a Watchman." All events are at 7 p.m. Check the B&N website for more details; some stores require an RSVP.

Our Lancaster book group, the Off-Track Bookies, has scheduled its final meeting of the season for June 18, with a potluck and brief discussion of "An Invisible Thread" by Laura Schroff. This nonfiction account of an 11-year-old panhandler's life after he tries to con a busy executive (Schroff) is a step into the world few of us are forced to live. Her involvement is not overwhelmingly beneficent, but she is as involved as life permits--certainly more than the average passerby, and the results are exceptional for this young man's life. I enjoyed the book when I read it last year.

Somehow, amidst all this and the routine of summer visitors and trips, I am managing to work on a much-neglected novel, written some time ago. It's amazing how much I learn between the times I have a go at editing and rewrites. Two books I recently picked up, to that end, are John Casey's "Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction" and James Hynes' "Writing Great Fiction: Storytelling Tips and Techniques." The latter is part of the Great Courses series and includes a CD. I picked it up at the library in Lancaster.